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Buffalo Field Office
Release Date: 03/17/11
Contacts: Lesley Collins    

Proposed Final Fortification Creek Planning Area
Buffalo RMPA/EA Available

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Buffalo Field Office (BFO) will release the proposed final Fortification Creek Planning Area (FCPA) Resource Management Plan Amendment (RMPA) and Environmental Assessment (EA) on March 18.

The FCPA is located in Campbell, Johnson, and Sheridan counties, Wyo. and encompasses 100,655 acres. Fortification Creek is an area described as requiring special management in the 2003 Powder River Basin Oil and Gas Project Environmental Impact Statement. The FCPA contains a resident elk herd, wilderness study area (WSA), citizen-proposed expansion to the WSA, and citizen-proposed Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). There are also large areas of steep slopes and sensitive soils. Stipulations on many oil and gas leases in this area require the lessee to develop a plan to protect sensitive surface resources.

The proposed final RMPA/EA documents the direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental impacts of three alternatives for management of BLM-administered lands within the Fortification Creek planning area. Alternative III is the preferred alternative or proposed action.

The formal scoping period began when the notice of intent was published in the Federal Register on Aug. 20, 2007. Written comments on the proposal for the RMPA/EA were accepted through Nov. 30, 2007. A draft RMPA/EA was released for public comment on Aug. 7, 2008 and written comments were received through Oct.7, 2008. Concerns regarding the ability to access and develop oil and gas leases in the FCPA and protection of the elk herd prompted BLM to reconsider the alternatives. New alternatives were developed and analyzed in a second draft RMPA/EA published on Sept. 17, 2010. Written comments were received through Nov. 19, 2010 and incorporated into the proposed final RMPA/EA.

Three alternatives are considered in the proposed final RMPA/EA:

Alternative I
No Action, in which coal bed natural gas (CBNG) development and other resources would be managed under existing land use planning decisions.

Alternative II
CBNG development would be geographically phased with prescriptive measures designed to protect elk and their habitat and to protect highly erodible soils. A citizen-proposed ACEC of approximately 33,750 acres would be designated. Overhead power could extend across BLM surface from existing lines along drainages and existing roads.

Alternative III
This Preferred Alternative would permit CBNG development to be phased based on performance standards established to protect elk and their habitat and to protect highly erodible soils. An ACEC would not be established. Overhead power could extend across BLM surface along roads or within other disturbance corridors. Operators would be responsible for achieving elk and reclamation performance standards in order for BLM to process applications for permit to drill.

Copies of the proposed final RMPA/EA will be available online at, at the Buffalo Field Office, and local libraries.

The proposed final RMPA will be circulated for a 30-day review and protest period ending April 18. Only those persons or organizations who participated in the planning process leading to the RMPA may protest. The protesting party may raise only those issues submitted for the record during the planning process leading up to the publication of this RMPA. These issues may have been raised by the protesting party or others. New issues may not be brought into the record at the protest stage.

E-mailed and faxed protests will not be accepted as valid protests unless the protesting party also provides the original letter by either regular or overnight mail postmarked by the close of the protest period. Under these conditions, the BLM will consider the e-mailed or faxed protest as an advance copy and will afford it full consideration. If you wish to provide the BLM with such advance notification, please direct faxed protests to the attention of Brenda Hudgens-Williams- BLM protest coordinator at (202) 912-7212, and e-mailed protests to:

All protests, including the follow-up letter (if e-mailing or faxing) must be submitted in writing and mailed to the following address:

Regular Mail:
Director (210)
Attention: Brenda Williams
P.O. Box 1383
Washington, D.C. 20024-1383

Overnight Mail:
Director (210)
Attention: Brenda Williams
20 M St. SE, Room 2134LM
Washington, D.C. 20003

For more information, contact Thomas Bills at (307) 684-1133.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.

Buffalo Field Office   1425 Fort Street      Buffalo, WY 82834  

Last updated: 03-18-2011